By Cambria Winery
In simple terms, “racking” means transferring wine from one vessel to another.
A few weeks ago, our crew was busy gently racking the 2011 Julia’s Pinot Noir to get it ready for the blending phase in preparation of bottling.
Winemaker Denise Shurtleff snapped these pictures inside the cellar – and now you get a sneak peek!
By Cambria Winery
We’re counting down the day until harvest! Winemaker Denise Shurtleff answered a few questions today about how the team is gearing up for the most important time of year.
1. It’s August! How close are we to picking the grapes?
Average start date is 9/08 -9/12. Usually, the Pinot Gris is the first to get picked closely followed by the Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir harvest is normally fast and furious since the grapes for the Cambria wines all come from the same site (or vineyard). We can be done with all of the Pinot Noir in 10-14 days. The Chardonnay grapes tend to be ready to pick just as the Pinot Noir is finishing up. The bulk of the Chardonnay occurs from 10/01 through 10/20. The Syrah comes in around the end of October to the first of November.
2. Any predictions for this year’s harvest?
It appears that the crop yields will be slightly under average volume but not nearly as low as in 2011. The quality of the grapes looks good and consistent at this point in time. The vines are healthy.
3. Does the Cambria team have any harvest traditions?
We always have a harvest theme (past themes have been “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Running for the Gold”, “Party in Paradise”, “25th Anniversary”). We buy hats or t-shirts to fit the theme; make little “goody bags” with pens, pencils, candy, stickers, etc that fit the theme and distribute the goods to all of the production employees. We have also made CD’s with music that go with the theme. One of our private jokes is that you cannot use any swear words before 6:00 a.m. We always have a lot of snacks around the production offices and break rooms because everybody is always hungry and you never know when you will be able to get a free moment to sit down and eat, so there is always “food on the go” available.
4. What’s your favorite part of the season?
The very beginning (because it is new and exciting!) and the very end (because it is done and we can be at home on the weekends).
5. What do you drink after a long day of harvest?
Sometimes I have a glass of cold white wine. Usually, I just have water – am tired and usually go to bed within 1 1/2 hours after getting home.
We’ll keep you updated on how harvest is going over the next couple of months. We sure can’t wait to taste these 2012 wines!
with another harvest update!
After we finished harvesting our Pinot Noir grapes two Wednesdays ago, we had a bit of a lull while we waited for the grapes to get to that perfect stage of ripeness. But by Monday, they were ready, and our vineyard crews began to bring in Chardonnay grapes from the blocks of the vineyard that we usually put into our Katherine’s Vineyard! As of last night, half of our grapes for Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay have been brought into the winery, and as of right now, our vineyard crew is in the process of picking even more!
Mmmm, Katherine’s 2011…I can’t wait!
Harvest is here!
Our 2011 harvest officially started last Tuesday. We brought all of our Pinot Gris in that day, and then were able to relax a little bit on Wednesday before picking our first blocks of Pinot Noir Thursday morning! So far we’ve brought in blocks of all of our eight Pinot Noir clones (2A, 23, 115, 667, 777, 4, 5, and 12), and we are expecting to finish picking the remainder of our Pinot Noir by the end of today!
Here are a couple of photos of harvest so far!
Some of our Clone 4 Pinot Noir bunches soaking in their last bit of sun before being harvested:
Our first blocks of Pinot Noir coming into the winery:
And here are our fermenting clonal Pinot Noir lots being punched-down by hand. We ferment these wines in individual barrels, and do what are called “punch-downs” on them to gently break apart the berries, so that the skins of the berries, which contain all of the grapes’ color, flavor, and tannins, will slowly begin imparting those characteristics to the grape juice. It also keeps the grape skins that have slowly begun forming a cap at the top of the barrel from becoming too dry, by periodically re-submerging them in the grape juice.
In case you’re wondering why there is steam coming out of the barrels, don’t worry! It is just dry ice, which we add it in small amounts to keep the must – or fermenting grape juice – cool!
Here is a barrel of our Clone 23 Pinot Noir post punch-down! Doesn’t it have a beautiful color to it?
I’ll be back with more harvest updates as harvest continues. For now, happy harvest 2011!